Cliff Lee and the Phillies made a statement Tuesday night with a crisp 5-0 win over the Red Sox in the opener of a series billed as a potential World Series matchup.
Some players on the two teams have talked about the excitement surrounding this series and the potential it has to be an October preview. Other players have noted that it's just an interleague series in late June and that there is still a ways to go before the playoffs, let alone the World Series. Lee's outing on Tuesday generated lots of excitement in this city - and plenty of buzz around the country - but if we're being unbiased and level-headed - how big is this series really? Perhaps it only becomes a true statement if the Phillies sweep the Sox. Or maybe even that wouldn't change the fact that this is nothing more than an intriguing series between two quality teams.
Cliff notes: As you may have already heard, Cliff Lee allowed one run in 42 innings this month, good for a 0.21 ERA. In case you were wondering which major league starter had the worst ERA this month, that would be Ted Lilly, who had a 7.01 ERA in five starts for the Dodgers. Hypothetically, if Lilly was starting for Los Angeles tomorrow – on the last day of the month – he would literally need to hold the Twins scoreless for 874 1/3 scoreless innings just to match Lee’s June ERA of 0.21. … Lee and the Tigers’ Rick Porcello each faced 147 batters in June. Porcello allowed 27 of them to score. Lee allowed one – and that came on a two-out, bloop single. … The Phillies’ opened June with a loss to the Nationals. In that game, Roy Oswalt allowed a first-inning single to Roger Bernadina, who was sacrificed to second and then promptly scored on a base hit by Jayson Werth. So, it took Oswalt approximately five minutes to give up as many runs as Lee allowed over a period of 30 days. … One more thought: Lee just went five starts in which he allowed a total of one run. There are many, many bad Phillies pitchers over the years for whom this would work, but for the sake of example, let’s pick Andy Ashby in 2000. In the very best stretch he had for the Phillies that season, Ashby allowed 20 runs over five starts. Lee just went five starts where he allowed 21 hits. Let that - and the greatness of Cliff Lee - sink in for a minute.